When I work with moms and their children to help clear out and organize
children’s rooms and play areas, I often find that a child is ready to part with an item and the mom is not. I once worked with a young girl who really knew what she wanted and what she no longer wanted to have in her space. Her mother, on the other hand, was a sentimental saver who has great difficulty parting with things. I knew I could have a challenge on my hands if we all worked together.
I’ve been in that situation before. Typically the child will identify something to donate to a charity and the mother will say, “Oh, your stuffed penguin, are you sure you want to get rid of that?” At that point I usually intervene and say, “If she wants to get rid of it, let her. If it means that much to you, you keep it.” Inside I’m saying, “It’s a good thing that she wants to get rid of things. Don’t discourage that!”
Fortunately, I’d worked with this client before and had prepared her for our session by encouraging her to let me work with her daughter by myself. I assuaged her fears by letting her know we’d show her what we planned to get rid of. Working alone with the daughter, we were able to find three large garbage bags of toys and craft items to donate and two bags of trash.
My client was so thrilled by our progress that she even allowed us to close two of the bags without checking out what was going out of the house. I am fairly certain we’d have been much less successful if Mom had been involved. Her second-guessing her daughter’s decisions would have slowed our progress and would have led to the daughter either feeling discouraged or angry.
Getting Mom out of the picture was a win-win for both mother and daughter. The child was given the chance to make her own decisions, with me monitoring the process, and the mother was able to get part of her house cleared out without the usual angst and agony.
Moms, if children want to get rid of their belongings, let them! Don’t second guess their decisions! When you second guess their decisions you are teaching them that they really can’t make good decisions on their own. You are teaching them to save instead of purge! Do you really want that?
Support your children’s purging choices. If you think they may regret their decisions, quietly set items aside for a set time. If, after a month the child has not missed the items, let them go. If you cannot let them go, then keep them for yourself. Don’t let your anxiety and difficulty letting go block your children from living a clutter-free life.